New report shows extent and impact of young driver crashes

12.00 | 28 May 2014 | | 5 comments

The “human cost of crashes” involving young drivers has been plotted across 49 different areas of Britain in a new report commissioned by the RAC Foundation.

The study, carried out by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) on behalf of the RAC Foundation, shows that nearly one in eight (11.9%) of all road casualties are hurt or killed in collisions involving a car driver aged 17-19 years. This is despite 17-19 year-olds making up only 1.5% of licensed drivers.

The proportion of casualties is highest in Dyfed Powys at almost one in five (18.2%), followed by Gwent (17%), Cumbria and North Wales (15.8%), Northern and Grampian (15.7%) and Cornwall (15.5%). At 5.6%, London had the smallest proportion.

TRL has also made “a conservative estimate” of the likely reduction in casualties if a system of graduated driving licensing (GDL) was introduced.

Based on the experience of other countries where GDL is in operation, the report concludes that across Britain about 4,500 fewer people would be hurt in an average year. This includes about 430 people who would otherwise have been killed or seriously injured.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Whichever way you cut it young drivers pose a significant and disproportionate risk to themselves and to others and it is in rural areas where the casualty rate is highest.

“The Government has repeatedly delayed announcing its strategy to help reduce young driver accidents but here is yet another piece of evidence which shows graduated licensing can significantly cut death and injury.

“The irony is that while ministers here prevaricate, action is being taken just across the Irish Sea. Earlier this month a bill was put before the Northern Ireland Assembly which would see the introduction of many of the measures this Government has ruled out.

“We should all have an interest in preserving young drivers’ lives rather than exposing them to undue risk at the stage of their driving careers where they are most vulnerable. This is about ensuring their long-term safety and mobility, not curtailing it.”

Click here to read the full RAC Foundation news release.



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    Having had a quick canter through Dr Jones’ report it quickly becomes clear that the benefits of GDL are not as clear cut as people say. The Cochrane Report cited in the document says “relatively little research has been done to see whether GDL actually works”, a fact which seems to be echoed in all of the other cited papers as well.

    What has become clear is that by removing people from ‘risky’ situations does not make these situations any less risky the first time they encounter them after the restriction period. GDL may well stop youngsters killing themselves for a couple of years, but that won’t stop them killing themselves when they are a bit older.

    This is what has been found with GDL and motorcycle riders. The restrictions really have had no effect on the crash rate which continues to remain stubbornly high.

    GDL is just another take on Bad Apple theory and is based on the idea that people cannot be killed by something that they are not doing. -NVT-

    Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon
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    Can I point you in the direction of the work of Dr Sarah Jones (among others) who has a slightly different view of the effectiveness of GDL:$FILE/Briefing%20note%20-%20FAQs%20May%202013%20(2).pdf

    Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News
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    GDL has made not one jot of difference to the motorcycle crash rate so why should it be any different for cars? -NVT-

    Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon
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    Always a pleasure to agree with Bob, an island of sanity in a mad mad world.

    Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield
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    If you were on a motorcycle for the first time you will know that you have to jump through hoops to get a full licence. They are now age-related and power-related with re-tests all the way through up to the age of 24/25 yrs. Yet a young and inexperienced car driver can pass a test and drive any car which could be capable of well over 130 mph.

    It shows its vulnerability when they are not allowed to drive on motorways before the test or required to take lessons on it after. Or country roads as they generally drive round the urban test courses, or drive at night. Seems to me that something needs an overhaul to capture these shortcomings.

    bob craven Lancs
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